Luis Severino's 100 MPH fastball vs Angels will have you dreaming of new Yankees future

Did Luis Severino write his next chapter as a reliever Monday night in Anaheim?
Jul 17, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA;  New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) throws
Jul 17, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) throws / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

What is Luis Severino? Beyond knowing he won't be pitching for the Yankees in 2024, we still don't know much more about him on Tuesday morning than we did entering his first start after the All-Star Break on Monday in Anaheim.

Prior to the break, Severino had appeared to be laboring more intensely than ever before. His fastball velocity had dipped into untenable territory, losing its trademark hop in the process. The pitch's location was somehow worse than its bite. The right-hander was convinced that pitch tipping had led to his 7.38 ERA. No one else was.

On Monday night, Severino didn't remove all doubt surrounding his future rotation spot. He wasn't jaw-dropping. He still allowed a good deal of hard contact (six hits, a home run, and one loud Mickey Moniak lineout on a full count with the bases loaded). He walked three.

But, perhaps most importantly, he displayed the ability to beat big-league hitters to the spot with his fastball, something he hadn't shown off in months.

Moniak lined out on a 98 MPH heater he was expecting; he couldn't get around quite quick enough. Earlier in the inning, facing runners on second and third with nobody out, he breezed his fastest pitch of the season past Eduardo Escobar, ascending to heights we hadn't seen since his second start of the year against San Diego.

Will Yankees fireballer Luis Severino be a starter or reliever when Nestor Cortes Jr. returns?

Or ... what about a third option? What about a starter for another team?

The way Severino bore down, reached new velocity heights, and managed to dot corners once that fifth-inning rally started brought forth optimism that his previous outings hadn't. Perhaps most importantly, though, the inning represented his velocity ratcheting up and his location getting more precise under pressure.

While Red Sox hurler Nick Pivetta's fastball continued playing up out of the bullpen several hundred miles away in the state of California, dreams of Severino's heater doing the same thing permeated the game's unfortunate aftermath.

If you refuse to believe in Severino in pinstripes, that would make sense. But before Monday's start, Sevy being demoted to the bullpen seemed likely to only ruffle feathers and move his problematic right arm to a different area rather than fix anything. In the aftermath of another gut-punch loss, it suddenly seemed like he could be a weapon again.

Again, he won't be a weapon for the 2024 Yankees. We know this. Someone will pay pillow contract wages to try him as a starter. He won't have to transition full-time into relief work at age 29.

But for now? For the rest of this complicated season? He could play up in the bullpen in August and September, as long as he's willing to do so.